Facts to Help you Survive a Hurricane
Isn’t the word itself quite scary? Well yes, but hopefully having read this article you will be armed with many more facts and knowledge about hurricanes and the preparation that is involved if you are expecting one to roll in soon.
We’ll take you through the stages of proper hurricane preparation, detailed info about what to do during and then dealing with the aftermath.
- Know the dates of hurricane season – in the north Pacific hurricane season starts May 15th and for the Atlantic and Caribbean it’s June 1st. Hurricane season ends on November 30th. This is because the seas are at their warmest and most humid, which are ripe conditions for a hurricane to develop.
‘On average, 10.1 named storms occur each season, with an average of 5.9 becoming hurricanes and 2.5 becoming major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater). The most active season was 2005, during which 28 tropical cyclones formed, of which a record 15 became hurricanes.’ – Wikipedia
- Most people who die in hurricanes are killed by the towering walls of seawater that comes inland.
- 40% of hurricanes that hit the US affect Florida. If you live in Florida, make sure to have a plan.
- In the Pacific Ocean, Hurricanes are generally known as typhoons. In the Indian Ocean they are called tropical cyclones but despite the different names they are essentially the same.
- The most effective way to barricade windows is with permanent storm shutters. If you live in an area susceptible to hurricanes having the means to block off windows effectively is vital. If shutters are not possible boarding the windows up with the correct size wood and some clippers like these is the next preference. Taping your windows will not prevent them from smashing – and leaving them open to equalize pressure is a myth. The indoor of your house will get wet and you will be at risk of flying debris.
- The less loose trees and shrubbery that is located around your house the better. The most effective way to counteract this is to regularly trim and prune your trees and bushes. This will dramatically reduce the chances of fallen branches damaging your property or your family.
- Prepare the following as part of a stay-at-home survival plan:
- 1st aid kit including any prescription medicines
- A fire extinguisher
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Sleeping bags & blankets
- Canned food
- Water bottles
- Cooking & eating utensils
- Toiletries (incl toilet paper)
- Rain gear
- Discuss and agree with your family, a meetup point locally in case of separation during the storm. Cell phone lines may be down.
- Over a third of cat and dog owners don’t have a disaster preparedness plan for their beloved animals. The best way to ensure the safe return of your pets is to have them properly microchipped by your veterinarian and to ensure they have collar tags with up to date information. Also encourage friends, family and neighbours to do this.
- To avoid many post hurricane complications, ensure all of your valuable documents, including copies of your insurance policy are in a water-tight container, wills, passports and other ID, ready to be taken with you if you are forced to evacuate. Power and internet access may be down after a hurricane and the CDC recommends you print out important documents. Also don’t forget to include photos of all family and pets in case anyone goes missing during the storm.
- Prepare your vehicle. Fill up on gas and park your car in the garage if possible. Add jumper cables, paper maps, GPS and a first aid kit in the car.
- Visit an ATM and get some cash.
- If you own a boat, get it moored.
During a Hurricane
- Know what winds to expect. The difference between a tropical storm and a hurricane is wind speed – with a tropical storm expect winds from 36mph to 47mph. Hurricane winds are upwards of 74mph.
- Stay informed with local radio and current announcements on NOAA radio, internet, and local tv.
- When you keep in touch with local weather announcements, with hurricanes the warning system is 2 fold:
- Hurricane Watch – this means that hurricane level winds are a possibility in your area. Authorities make this announcement 48 hours before they expect tropical-storm-force winds (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) to start. At this point you make your final preparations for a hurricane and you may be advised to evacuate.
- MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW ANY EVACUATION ORDERS IMMEDIATELY. IF YOU LIVE IN A HIGH RISE BUILDING, MOBILE HOME, ON THE COAST, NEAR A RIVER, ON THE FLOODPLAIN OR IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE IN DANGER – EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY.
- Hurricane Warning – this is more serious and hurricane winds are expected in your area. Sustained winds of 74mph or more are on the way and these warnings are given 36 hours before.
- If you are told to EVACUATE use this checklist:
- Turn off utilities – gas, electric, water. Unplug all appliances in your home
- Get your emergency supply kit – prioritize first aid, medication, cell phone, chargers, ID and cash
- Call ahead to who you are intending to stay with. If you need to check with your local emergency management office to see if there is temporary accommodation available
- When leaving, never drive or walk through flooded areas if at all possible and follow all advice given by authorities
- If you are NOT EVACUATING:
- Turn off all the utilities in your house (if told by authorities to do so) – don’t forget about any gas canisters outside (perhaps for BBQ). Remember to fill baths and other large containers with water first, in case supply is cut.
- Close storm shutters or board up windows
- Close all internal doors and close blinds and curtains
- Stay away from windows and glass doors
- Go to your safe room or the most internal, lowest room in your house
- Keep your phone on charge and try to use it as little as possible except in emergency situations.
- The most violent winds and heaviest rains take place in the eye wall, the ring of clouds and thunderstorms closely surrounding the eye. If things go quiet, be sure to wait it out as it may just be the eye of the storm passing over
After the Storm
- Do not return to your home unless advised by authorities that it is safe to do so.
- Inform friends and family that you are safe
- Check local updates on drinking water
- On returning home, throw out any food that has come into contact with flood water. Also check fridges and freezers have not gone above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If so, throw it out
- Immediately remove or dry out water damaged items to reduce the risk of further damp and potential mold
- Take photographs of all (if any) damage to your house. Call your insurance company.
- Never walk or drive through floodwater. If you have no choice but to be near floodwater, wear a life vest.
Hopefully, there will be few remaining storms this year for everyone. However, if there is one on the way at least hopefully after reading this article in its entirety, you’ll be better prepared.
Please don’t forget to take care of your mental health if you do happen to experience a hurricane. Experiences like these can be incredibly traumatic and it’s all too easy to underestimate how they can affect your life afterward. The CDC puts it extremely well:
‘Dealing with disasters can cause stress and strong emotions, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural to feel anxiety, grief, and worry. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover.’ – CDC
Centre for Disease Control – https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/index.html
National Weather Service, Hurricane Information – https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-ww